The new World Series of Poker Europe – Cannes we dig it? [Editorial]
Friday, 14 October 2011
The World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) moved to Cannes, France, from London’s Casino at the Empire for the first time in its five years for 2011. Bar a few grumbles, mostly with British accents, this move was met with near unanimous support from the poker world. Have those high expectations been reached?
Let’s look at the numbers for the WSOPE 2011 compared to previous years:
2011 WSOPE - €5,300 Pot-Limit Omaha; 180 entrants
2010 WSOPE - £5,250 Pot-Limit Omaha, 120 entrants
2009 WSOPE - £5,250 Pot-Limit Omaha, 154 entrants
2008 WSOPE - £5,250 Pot-Limit Omaha, 165 entrants
2007 WSOPE - £5,250 Pot-Limit Omaha, 165 entrants
2011 WSOPE - €2,650 6-max NL; 360 entrants
2010 WSOPE - £2,650 6-max NL; 244 entrants
2011 WSOPE - €1,090 NL; 771 entrants
2010 WSOPE - £1,075 NL; 582 entrants
2009 WSOPE - £1,075 NL; 608 entrants
2008 WSOPE - £1,500 NL; 410 entrants
The only event that carries back all five years is the Omaha, albeit with a transfer from sterling to euro. There we can see that it began to wane in 2009/10 before coming back with a vengeance in Cannes. This is mirrored in the Event Formerly Known As The £1,075 NL, which smashed the record of 608 set in 2009 when JP Kelly won the event. The only other comparable event is the 6-max NL that Phil Laak won in 2010. Still, we can see across the board that events are on the up.
This is even post-Black Friday. And why? Two reasons – firstly, we can fit them in. When 608 players entered the 2009 WSOPE £1,075 event they did so crammed into The Empire across three opening flights. In Cannes they did it in two, with space to spare. I’m looking forward to seeing the Main Event beat the 362 record set in 2007/8. Also, Americans like Cannes a lot more than London. They can’t hack our weather.
I think it’s very interesting to note that the WSOPE £10,000 Main Event has never grown in size since Annette Obrestad won the inaugural championship in 2007. She beat a field of 362 players, the same amount that John Juanda defeated the next year. Barry Schulman bested 334 and James Bord 346. Even with the French and Italian poker booms and the more positive poker industry in Europe as opposed to America, we’ve never seen a bigger field than we have done in 2007/8.
That’ll change this year. From reports, it seems that the fields are not only bigger but much fishier. That’s what’s so cool about the Cannes WSOPE – even after Black Friday, there are still record fields; imagine how many entrants the 771-strong €1,090 event would have had if US players could have qualified online and US fish knew about it? It seems that the majority of the field were 33-year-old Frenchman (the average age for the event was low thirties) who, let’s face it, are probably not the most solid players.
What makes the WSOP great is that anyone can play with the best in the world. In London, this faded a bit, largely due to the space issues meaning the event never truly took off and also the economic downturn. No one has £10,000 kicking around. However, now that it is in Cannes it seems that a lot of recreational players have been engaging in WSOPE action, albeit maybe not the Main Event.
That’s what makes a great tournament. The fish come to play with the best. Then that attracts the good to slightly-above-average which attracts more of the best which attracts more of the fish which... maybe I should write a book on poker ecosystems.
Although it did sting my British pride when the move was announced, it seems that it was for sure the right play. I remember reading in 2008 an idea to move the WSOPE every year – London, Cannes, Madrid, Berlin... that might not be a bad shout. At the time I thought “why would you do that, London rocks?” but now that it has proved so successful overseas, it’s worth considering.